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Capital Punishment; Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty

A humane way of killing?

A humane way of killing?

Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty

Public opinion and passions are sharply divided among supporters and protestors of capital punishment, also known as the "death penalty". To dissenters it is a government sanctioned murder, the premeditated and planned taking of a human life.

Arguing against capital punishment, Amnesty International believes that the death penalty is the ultimate violation of human rights. The state's cold blooded killing; a cruel and inhumane form of punishment in the name of justice.

To supporters, capital punishment is justified when viewed through the eyes of the victims. They believe that society not only have the right, but is duty bound to act in self defense to protect the innocent and prevent the murderers from ever killing again.

Because of the present of aggravating circumstances when the crime was committed, the offender " have earned the ultimate punishment society has to offer."

But to the Catholic church, " The death penalty diminishes all of us, increases disrespect for human life, and offers the tragic illusion that we can teach that killing is wrong by killing."

Capital punishment or the "Death penalty"

Although most countries in the world have abolish the death penalty, a majority of people still live under it's threat of punishment, since the most populous nations like China,India,Indonesia and the United States still have capital punishment.

It still exist in jurisprudence despite the growing movement to have it abolish.The United Nations, in 1977 issued a resolution for the elimination of the death penalty. Calling for more humane forms of punishment, pro-life supporters argue against the practice base on moral and practical reason.

In place of the electric chair and gas chamber the method of lethal injection was adopted. A far cry from early period of human civilization when a person was first subjected to torture before being put to death.The stake burnings of accused, drawing and quartering, or flaying people alive were horrific practices which would have exceeded the "eye for an eye" justification. Clearly going beyond retribution and more inclined to man's sadistic and vengeful nature.

So where do we draw the line between justice and punitive measures.What is the death penalty's role in the "humane" evolution of addressing the need of grievances seeking reparation? Like Shylock's dilemma, how do we determine the "pound of flesh".

This hub is neither for nor against the death penalty

We all have our own belief on the pros and cons of the death penalty.

It is an emotional issue and I respect the reader's personal feelings.

This article was written because of a recent event in my life that put into question the penal code governing crime and their punishment. What is the death penalty's real purpose? Is it an effective deterrent against violent crime or is it merely a legal justification to seek vengeance.

Can the nobility in a man's character overcome the need for retribution when we are the victims?

Contrasting perception of capital punishment

Lawrence Brewer

White supremacist gang member Lawrence Brewer was executed for the dragging death slaying of a black man James Byrd.
Byrd who lived off disability checks would often walk to where he would go because he couldn't afford a car.On the day of his tragic death he had unknowingly hitchhiked on the truck of Brewer and two of his Ku Klux Klan friends.

Law officers found Byrd's body parts scattered along an isolated road. He was tied with a 24 foot logging chain to the truck's rear bumper and dragged for 3 miles.His headless and shredded remains was later dumped between an Afro-American church and cemetery. The brutal crime shocked the nation.

Troy Davis

Troy Davis was on death row for twenty years. He was convicted for the murder of a Georgia police officer,Mark MacPhail.

The murder weapon was never found and of the nine witnesses who testified against Davis,seven have since recanted with some alleging their testimony were coerced by the police.To many the circumstantial evidence placed a cloud of doubt on the guilt of Davis.

After four years of appeal and a final decision of the U.S. supreme court affirming the death sentence,Davis was executed despite the public outcry and world opinion.

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Both men were executed on the same day. Brewer and Davis became the 1,268th and 1,269th persons executed since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to reinstate capital punishment in 1976.

Lawrence Brewer / Troy Davis _ Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty

Lawrence Brewer / Troy Davis _ Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty

The families of the two victims had different reaction to the death penalty.

The Byrd family made it known that they would have been agreeable to life imprisonment for Brewer and asked that his life be spared."You can't fight murder with murder" ,The victim's son said."I wish the state would take that in mind that this isn't what we want." They held a vigil on the eve of Brewer's execution despite Brewer's unrepentant "As far as any regrets,no I have no regrets, I'd do it all over again"

The family of the murdered police officer held the opposite view and were against any clemency for Davis."Justice was finally served for my father " the officer's son told news reporters.

" I AM TROY DAVIS" and what about Lawrence Brewer, can we recognize him as a human being and not simply an issue?

" I AM TROY DAVIS" and what about Lawrence Brewer, can we recognize him as a human being and not simply an issue?

Davis attracted a lot of sympathy and his case stirred public indignation from many around the world including clemency pleas from the pope and former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. Brewer on the other hand had few sympathizers.

The circumstances surrounding their case could not be more different. Although media played a part in shaping public opinion, people's notion of morality and justice determined their reaction towards the executions. But if we are bound by a common humanity then the divergence of reactions to the two execution also pointed out the moral hypocrisy of society.

Yuan Bao jing being led to the execution van only hours after hearing the promulgation of his death sentence.

Yuan Bao jing being led to the execution van only hours after hearing the promulgation of his death sentence.

Death Chamber on Wheels

china mobile execution van

china mobile execution van

China's Execution Van

China's legal system allows only one appeal.If the appeal is rejected,the death penalty is carried out immediately,sometimes within hours.

From serious crimes like murder,drug trafficking,armed robbery to white collar crimes of corruption and tax evasion as well as political dissensions, the death penalty is handed down for sixty-eight different crimes. More than half non-violent offenses.

The traditional execution is carried out in public. The condemned person is made to kneel with hands cuffed and head bowed before being shot in the head.The family of the decease is charge for the bullet. In 1995 a law was passed that made execution by lethal injection an alternative to a bullet

The mobile execution vans are converted 24-seat buses that cost $100,000. Similar in appearance to other police vehicles, the windowless execution chamber is located at the back where the prisoner is strapped down on a metal bed behind the glass panel of the observation area..A video monitor next to the driver's seat can record the execution if required. A police officer presses a button and an automatic syringe plunges a lethal drug into the prisoner's vein. Death occurs in about 30-60 seconds and is painless.

The body is cremated and the ashes return to the family. Because of the nature of the procedure, there are accusation of organ harvesting before the bodies are cremated.

Disparity in the promulgation of the death penalty's between the rich and poor

Yuan Baojing

Chinese tycoon Yuan Baojing who was worth about half a billion U.S. dollars was put to death along with two other accomplice. He was accuse of arranging the death of a man trying to blackmail him for the failed attempt to kill a business partner. Yuan suspected the business partner of defrauding him of eleven million dollars.

Convicted a year earlier the death sentence was suspended. Rumors had it that Yuan Boajing "donated" the majority of his wealth to someone high up in the ranks of the Chinese communist party (CCP) in an effort to save his life. But the CCP is rift with intrigue and in-fighting among factions competing for advantage and positions. Depending on one's political acumen to choose correctly the winning side, party members can rise or fall during these power struggles.

Perhaps Yuan's protector chose the losing side.Or because it was a high profile case,Yuan was made an example to counter public perception that the law for the rich and powerful was different to that of the ordinary citizen.

China executes more than four times as many convicts as the rest of the world combine.Human right supporters may deplore the Chinese government policy on capital punishment. But when lady justice weigh the scale,shouldn't it be the same for both the under privilege and the wealthy?

China may be riddled with corruption,but at least the rich and powerful are also subjected to the death penalty.

The unholy alliance between the elite, big business and government affect greatly the income and lifestyle of the ordinary majority. Grand scale larcenies committed by those in the upper echelon of society in cahoots with corrupt public officials should warrant the imposition of the death penalty.

The wealthy and powerful not only go scot free but are rewarded with government munificence paid for by taxpayers. With countless lives destroyed and loss,why isn't economic sabotage considered a crime against humanity?

Wealth has it's privilege. The headman could be persuaded to stay the hand of execution

The Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty


stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on May 25, 2015:

Hi, I found your article to be informative and very truthful. I am convinced that the death penalty is too easy. Great article. Stella

SilentReed (author) from Philippines on October 20, 2011:

Saddlerider1 ~ We have to acknowledge that it is not rehabilitation that is the primary reason for the penal systems that exist in today's world. As Wayne Brown pointed out it really comes back to the issue of "deterrence" for the protection of personal properties and our right to a safe living environment. If that was the case then we can say that the death penalty has not serve it's purpose.

We can assuage our guilt by the use of the conscientious "There can be no forgiveness without justice" or strenghten our belief through the legalese "He had been tried by his peers and found guilty". The result is just the same. And if we are candid enough to admit it sans the moral bias and hypocrisy, we may discover the dark side of the human psyche that instinctively lust for vengeance and demand retribution for a perceive "injustice".

Thank you Ken, for acknowledging the poem. This article was written some time ago, incomplete and in draft form. It laid inside a folder in "my documents". The tragic event nudged me to finish it. I added the story of the incident to round off the article but felt something was missing. I wrote the poem as an expression of what you correctly recognized, a heart breaking in tears and sorrow (..and anger) for a life that was taken too early.

SilentReed (author) from Philippines on October 20, 2011:

Wayne Brown ~ Thank you for your informative and insight on the death penalty. Has it really been an effective "deterrence"? There are pros and cons, and I have to agree with you that our bias make impartial decisions hard. Perhaps in an Orwellian society of the future. Criminals would be judge by computers and artificial intelligence logically and without emotion. A scary prospect....

There is no jury system in the Philippines. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have the right to counsel, to confront witnesses and present evidence.But it is the sole prerogative of the court judge to make the final decision. His decision however could be appealed to the higher courts. This system place immense power into the hands of one person. Deal making and bribery have seen many guilty people go scotfree and the innocent sent to prison. Wealthy and influential people involved in sensational cases are occasionally convicted because of strong public opinion but their lifestyle in prison makes a mockery of the judicial system ( air conditioned rooms with complete amenities, allowed to go out to attend social function or family affairs, one convicted politician had a private cottage with a swimming pool where he conducts business and dalliance with his mistresses)

But no less outrageous is the U.S. trend towards privatization and outsourcing of prison facilities. This has become a multi-billion industry ($20 billion). The people who benefit obviously do not have rehabilitation nor deterrence in mind. The profit angle would be the motivating factor. The more people sent to prison, the more profits. It would not be a far fetch notion that judges would be influence by pecuniary compensation to fill the prison cells as well as the coffers of these privately own corporations.

saddlerider1 on October 20, 2011:

Silent this was a well put together educational hub, you were not so silent and I respect that. After reading your Hub about crime and punishment for the crime and the ramifications for committing such crimes, one has to take a stand.

Capital punishment is very controversial and will be until the end of time. However, where punishment does fit the crime then justice should be served. I would have no hesitation on being the 'Hangman' and very willing to pull or push the button and watch the criminal swing or fry, without shedding one tear. Call me cold, hardened, callous. I don't care.....

Only and I say ONLY if that person was proven within a shadow of any doubt that he or she committed and planned premeditated MURDER. Why should the parents, family, friends be added as victims to the killers list of victims that he proven in a court of law murdered in cold blood. Why should we the taxpayer, pay for their incarceration at a huge yearly cost for the rest of their natural lives. When prisons are overflowing and busting at the seams. I say rubbish.

You know how I scribe, you have read many of my dark sided pieces, yet this Saddlerider is all for humanity at it's finest, yet when it doesn't work and we see monsters, beasts, cold blooded killers set free to do it all over again and have been fattened and kept alive by US the GOVERNMENT who pay for their freedom, it sickens me to no end. So now you have it, my point of view.

Your heart breaking poem, brought tears flowing down my face. YES that reckless driver must pay for this crime, this taking of such a fragile flowers innocence. He had no right to be driving at that speed and carelessness to take another life. He must pay, death penalty? that would have to be debated in a court of law in his country. But YES he must pay for his crime against this child and her family.

Thank you for sharing, my answer is YES to the death penalty where it is warranted and proven without a shadow of doubt that the accused is GUILTY 1000%.....

Wayne Brown from Texas on October 20, 2011:

Life is not just as we can recount in many ways. Luck plays its part as does fate, if one subscribes to fate. Certainly, a jury of 12 who witnessed the same scene you witnessed would determine guilt very quickly. In essence, your ability to prosecute this driver is slanted by your images of the scene. The same impact takes place when people watch individuals put to death for a crime. All they see is the ugliness in that moment...nothing of the crime or crimes committed.

Each situation stands on its own. I believe the courts have a duty to warn a jury as to whether a given evidence rises to the status of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. No one should be executed without "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" that he/she committed the crime. At the same time, how do you determine that testimony has been coerced or swayed until it is too late unless the person testifying steps up? In the USA, there are very few crimes which warrant the death penalty...pre-meditated murder being on top of the list. Some would say that Bundy and those like him are mentally ill and must be salvaged and reprogrammed. Others would point out that Bundy and those like him are permanently flawed craving the need to deal out death as an addict craves drugs. Laws are put into place in society primarily as a "deterrence". If a law is successful, there will be few if any who break it. Given that premise, one must ask the question, "Are the Lawrence Brewers and Ted Bundys of this world just filled with hate and vengeance or are they mentally-ill and not fit to be on the streets?

We can lock a man up for his entire life and he can be innocent but if he dies under the claim of guilt what difference does it make? Some would say keeping a man locked up for 50 to 60 years is more cruel than death and they may have a point. It really comes back to the issue of "deterrence". WB

SilentReed (author) from Philippines on October 03, 2011:

Beata Stasak ~ If all men where just, there would be no need for a legal system that governs crime and punishment. Thank you for your comment, let us hope and pray that a day will come when all men will live in peace and harmony.

Beata Stasak from Western Australia on October 03, 2011:

There are so many sociopaths, just like Ted Bundy and we never killed them all ....there are also so many innocent people who are executed and proved 'no guilty' just too late...

Thank you for your interesting and useful article about the topic that never ceases to catch our attention....'LIVE AND LET LIVE...can we?'

SilentReed (author) from Philippines on September 29, 2011:

always exploring ~ I have to agree with you.It is a tough call:) But in the case of Ted Bundy....Ted Bundy was a sociopath. Even after his killing spree ended with his arrest, he confess but never accepted responsibility for the crimes.Instead he blame society and others. Showing no remorse,he gloated at the public attention given to him. Was he an abnormality of "nature" or did the lack of "nurture" made him what he was. Someone once called him "Evil reincarnate". A hoax that saw print in newspapers before his execution purportedly coming from the state governor,ask that people reduce their electric consumption by shuting off all non-essential use during the period of execution so that additional current may be pump into the electric chair....Many people would have complied.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on September 29, 2011:

This was interesting and well written. I must say that i am not sure about the death penalty. I don't know what the solution to a heinous crime should be. When i think of Ted Bundy, i know he was evil, but still his execution bothered me, yet the man who drug the black man deserved to die, so i guess i have mixed feelings, he showed no mercy and stated that he would do it again. Thank you...

SilentReed (author) from Philippines on September 29, 2011:

Twilight Lawns ~ Always glad to have you drop by. Thank you for your comment and appreciation.

SilentReed (author) from Philippines on September 29, 2011:

Movie Master ~ Thank you for your comments. Anger is a strong emotion that some say can only be overcome by love and understanding. But can there be forgiveness without justice?

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on September 29, 2011:

A well constructed hub. Stating several sides allows the reader to decide. Thank you.

Movie Master from United Kingdom on September 29, 2011:

Hello SilentReed, an extremely well written article.

I understand your anger, what you witnessed was so tragic.

Voting up.

SilentReed (author) from Philippines on September 29, 2011:

50 Caliber ~ Hello Dusty, I'm glad you found this hub educational.Another reason I wrote this article is to ease the pain and release the anger I still feel. In the poem I wrote here " To Samantha" the first lines read "I never knew you as you pass by each day" I was referring to Samantha yet perhaps I was also calling attention to myself,to look deep within.The tragic event that happened in front of our home have made me re-evaluate certain beliefs and values that I use to take for granted.

50 Caliber from Arizona on September 29, 2011:

SilentReed, a well put together article, well laid out easy to read and understand, with educational value. Thanks,50

SilentReed (author) from Philippines on September 29, 2011:

Danette Watt ~ Funny you mention this method of execution. It brought back movie remnants from boyhood memories.The overidealistic and whimsical notion of the gallant hero condemned to die at the first light of dawn.He refuses the offered blindfold,stands erect and faces the firing squad.Look death in the eye without flinching. A final statement :)

Danette Watt from Illinois on September 28, 2011:

If I had to be put to death, I'd want a firing squad - a lot quicker than an injection and no worries about drugs not working. But in my opinion, a fate worse than death would be to be locked up for the rest of your life without the freedom to go where you want, when you want.

Probably not the reaction/comment you were looking for, but there it is.

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